Feb 28 2009
It’s becoming increasingly difficult in today’s music industry to see artists initiating connections with their fans. With the instant gratification both bands and fans have demanded with innovations in technology, I sometimes feel that less emphasis is put on the culture of music, and more is put on the business aspect. Both sides are obviously important, but as a species bound by incentives, I really appreciate when people find as much reward in connections and the sharing of ideas, as they do in monetary value.
This is one of the reasons why I feel so attached to Ben Cooper’s music. He is in the duo Electric President and also has a great side project called Radical Face. Both are signed to Morr music, and while Cooper understands the importance of having to make money just as much as the next guy, he also understands the need to go beyond that. Unlike many artists, who turn into businessmen and quickly forget about the art, Cooper has upheld his love for music to the fullest.
Cooper recently started a project called “Patients,” which is more or less a compilation of recorded songs that never had a good home. The project consisted of him personally producing 100 CDs and decorating it and its package with spray paint and markers. To receive one of the CDs, you had to trade something, anything, with Cooper, as long as it wasn’t money.
To get a full appreciation for how much time Cooper put into this project, you have to check out his site. Not only did he invest money—in producing the CDs, opening a P.O box, and paying postage– he also thoughtfully wrote about the entire project by listing the 100 trades that he received and the explanations behind each track on the album. It’s easy to tell how meaningful this project was to him. From his blog:
I feel odd using this phrase, but multiple times I found myself moved by the things someone traded or said — moved to sentiment, or laughter, or surprise. Some even left me scratching my head, or made me blush.
I love that many of you included letters with your packages, explaining your trades, and sometimes even sharing a little slice of your life with me. In many ways, that was my favorite part — getting little glimpses into what motivated you to do this, why you chose what you did, what it meant to you. I love stories, and genuinely appreciate that I got so many of them. And more than once I was pretty shocked that someone traded me something of such obvious sentiment to them. As strange as it may sound, this project was kind of reaffirming. It changed my outlook on people as a whole to something more optimistic. And the best thing is I didn’t see it coming. To be blindsided in a positive way is a wonderful thing.
This project also moved me, and I’m thrilled I was able to take part in it (can you guess which number I am?). It too left me with a feeling of optimism knowing we can still triumph our capitalist ways. I would have gladly paid to receive this album from Cooper, but it wouldn’t have held nearly the same value that it does this way. This is an album that I am never going to forget.
You can still participate in the project via email! Check here for details.
“This was the last song I wrote on my former piano before the hammers got completely stuck and it had to be thrown out [read Dec 27th, 2007 post to read story, see piano.] It was originally just a scratch demo for a general sound I wanted to use on my next Radical Face record, but I kept running with it and liked how it came out. And since that piano died on my the next night, it wound up being the last song to ever come out of it.”
MP3: Tall Tale No. 5
“This is basically a country song. I wrote this song about 3 years ago, and recorded the drums for it while working on Astronautalis’s record “The Mighty Ocean …” down in Orlando. I tracked the guitars, banjo and bass when I returned home, but didn’t put any vocals or extra instruments on it due to getting sick. Then I forgot about it. So it sat on a hard drive for about a year and a half until I was making back-ups and stumbled upon the files. I still had the notebook with the lyrics, so I went ahead and finished it over the course of a night.”
Radical Face – Ghost (2007):
Electric President – S/T (2006)